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Progress 2007 Economic review & forecast

Top vote-winner returns with ‘high expectations’

Scott Morgan reclaims seat on Lawrence school board, ready to move forward

April 21, 2007

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Four years ago, Scott Morgan presided over a school board worn out by school closings, layoffs and program cuts.

In the 2003 election, voters pushed Morgan out of office by 66 votes.

But on April 3, Morgan completed a comeback, winning election again to the school board.

The decisions he was punished for in 2003 may have earned him points in 2007 from people who believed that, right or wrongly, he at least stood by some tough decisions.

"People may respect me for that," Morgan said.

In the most recent election, Morgan, 49, and the president of the publishing company Morgan Quitno Press, was the top vote-winner with 7,865 votes. That was nearly 2,200 more votes than the next candidate.

Why come back into the fray?

Morgan said it's because he and his wife, Kathleen, have three children - one each in Lawrence elementary, junior high and high schools.

"With three kids still in school, it is thrown in my face each day how important schools are," he said. The Morgans also have a Norwegian exchange student enrolled in the district.

"I have a vested interest in making sure that our schools are the best they can be," Morgan said.

He said Lawrence has a great school system but can't rest on its laurels. "The school board must set high expectations for our students, involve parents, support teachers and spend money wisely," he said.

Morgan said he brings to the job experience, an open mind and a determination to make choices.

"You have to be honest about things, analyze the issue, listen to people with different opinions, and do what you think is best," he said.

He said improving Lawrence school district facilities, including recreational facilities, is an important priority for the upcoming term.

He wants to take a moderate approach with the district's student wellness program, saying it's important for the schools to encourage good eating habits. But he added, "I would hope it doesn't get to something as silly like not having cookies at parties."

And Morgan said he wants to analyze the issue of full-day kindergarten for the district.

"It sounds like a good program, but I'm not a fan if we are taking from other programs that are also helping kids," he said.

Morgan had served on the school board from 1999-2003.

He lost a re-election attempt after a board decision to close several elementary schools where enrollment had declined.

At the time, he had said: "If that cost me the election, it was an easy price to pay. Not because I revel in closing things, but because that was so long overdue. The kids will be so much better served."

The term also was marked by state education funding battles that resulted in cuts to school districts.

But after the 2007 results, Morgan said he was surprised to be the top vote-winner.

"I still haven't figured it out," he said.

Morgan, a lawyer, comes from a political background. Before starting his publishing company, he was chief counsel to then-Gov. Mike Hayden, worked on former U.S. Bob Dole's presidential campaign and served on the staff of former U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, R-Kan.

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